We have named 2017 our Year of Renewal.
There is one thing that prompted us to do so, and another that enabled us. But, of course, it God who empowers us, so we look forward to a shining time.
The year 2016 included our 150th Jubilee. This remarkable observance was comprised of multiple celebrations and reflections on what it means for us to “have come this far by faith.”
As the year began, Pastor Dave Denoon entered his sixth year with us. Part of our Terms of Call with him is the provision of a sabbatical – twelve weeks for him to be away and recharge. We decided in March 2016 to apply for funding through the Lilly Endowment, a Clergy Renewal Grant. In August we received word that we had been selected and our grant approved.
Pastor Dave has decided to explore abroad the roots of American racism, by going on a tour of West African countries with his family which is transracial. He hopes to do this by interacting with the people, learning more fully the history, and experiencing the wide ranging cultures in Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal (at least). He is additionally interested in witnessing the places and ports through which the Middle Passage slave trade commenced, and to appreciate the spiritual foundations that have engendered the strength and courage so visible throughout the African Diaspora.
We meanwhile have committed ourselves to approaching more deeply the cultural underpinnings of race and racism in America. With the pastor, we know that change needs to happen in the grounding of our society and the hearts of our people, if discrimination and prejudice are ever to be battled and positive outcomes reached. We know we cannot “fix” racism, but we can be more sensitive to ways in which we perpetuate it unknowingly and unintentionally. And we know from scripture that the Holy Spirit’s effects upon us require that we engage this form of repentance as well as others, if we are to become truly whole in God.
So, from January 15, 2017, through January 14, 2018, this is the work that we intend to engage as a historically White congregation prayingto live out divine mercy and seeking “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with [our] God.”